Students raise Their Voice Over Climate Issues

I was made aware of this news story from the US through a message from those passionate, dedicated people from 350.org , the environmental group working to raise awareness about the scientific implications of global warming. It’s especially heartening that they are targeting most of their efforts at raising awareness in the US and campaigning for policy changes in the country that continues to be responsible for more of the man-made negative impacts on global warming and worldwide climate.

New York Times – Students Target College Funds

Reading the story, I particularly liked the way the students’ activities have taken their lead from the highly successful campaigns by students in the 1980s (not just in the US, but also throughout UK and Europe) that brought pressure to bear and raised consciousness about the ills of apartheid. I think such a campaign is necessary because this is a very worrying time in relation to the fight against global warming and the need to shift the world on to growth trajectories based upon sustainability and renewable energy sources. The American presidential election was worrying for the fact that both candidates steered clear almost completely from talking properly about these critical issues that won’t go away. Having recently read Tom Friedman’s “Hot, Flat and Crowded” I see it is even more vital that America sets some precedents that acknowledge that current growth routes and inadequate provision for research in to renewable energies puts the planet and the kind of world our children will inherit on a very dangerous path.

Friedman published this book in 2008 and was very clear about the urgency that exists to address some of the key issues about global warming. Regrettably, my reading of the 4 years since publishing is that things have got worse, not better and the pygmies in government around the world are looking less and less likely to take a stand that is in the long-term interest of the planet. Instead, they pander to short-term interests and are ‘controlled’ and manipulated with the vast wealth of the fossil fuel and petro-chemical giants.

Thomas Friedman – Hot, Flat and Crowded

Bill McKibben, who’s ideas are discussed in the article visited India a couple of years ago and I was very fortunate to hear him speak at Teen Murthi Bhavan as a part of one of the big tiger conservation conferences. In recent months he has quite rightly been raising significant fears about the US move to mining oil from shale. Firstly, this is a highly detrimental method from an environmental perspective. Secondly, my understanding is that this is a US reaction to steer away from dependency on imported oil from gulf countries and environments that are politically unstable. My reading of Friedman suggests that those fears needed a response that saw much higher capital investment to support lots more research in the areas of renewables and a more level playing field that would encourage those already working in renewable to gear up for bigger production with some certainty about the future. Simply turning to a dirtier home source of fossil fuels to get away from the clutches of the petro-dictators is not the answer the world needs.

These actions of these students will need to be multiplied across far more educational institutes across America before those who make the investment decisions recognize that they cannot ignore the students’ voice. Nevertheless, I am hopeful that these students, by raising their voices in this way, will be able to turn a small wave in to a significant movement to send a far louder message to the fossil fuel companies that the times have changed and so their ways must change. Otherwise, I fear that the world and our children are looking at a very bleak scenario, especially as failure to change on the part of the US will continue to act as legitimization for China and India to pursue growth models which are already broken and unsustainable.

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